Author's Note:Thanks once again to Andrea (iloveromance) for writing the beautiful and extremely melt-worthy "Comforting Embrace." As much as I loved the story, I felt that it begged for a continuation. So of course I had to do something about that! :)
Daphne stood in the hallway, feeling her heart pound. She had no idea how this conversation would go, but she knew it couldn't be avoided any longer. She hadn't been able to get yesterday's events out of her mind. She'd been totally surprised when Dr. Crane's younger brother walked in on her conversation with his brother. He had misinterpreted what was going on, believing that Daphne and Frasier were arguing. And though she tried to tell him the truth, he would not hear it. He'd been too busy comforting her. It left her wondering...was there something more going on here than she'd realized?
So, on the pretense of running errands, Daphne had snuck over to Dr. Crane's apartment to speak to him. Whatever happened in the next few minutes, she hoped that they could remain friends, without any awkwardness. She took a deep breath and rang the bell.
"Coming!" Daphne heard from behind the door. A second later, he opened the door. Daphne wanted to say something, but her nerves got the best of her.
"Is something wrong?" Niles asked, concern immediately showing on his face.
Daphne swallowed. "No. I just wanted to talk to you. I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
"Of course not," Niles said, stepping back to let her in. "Sit down. Can I get you anything? Champagne?"
"All right," she replied. She figured the drink would buy her some time to think of what to say. Now that she was here, this whole idea seemed almost silly. But there was no going back now.
Niles went into the kitchen, returning almost instantly with a tray containing a bottle and two glasses.
"Thank you," Daphne said as she took hers. She took a sip, hoping it would steady her nerves. It didn't. "I'm not quite sure how I should begin. This isn't easy for me."
Niles put his drink down and took her hand. He couldn't resist caressing it with his thumb. "Daphne, I know that it's difficult to talk about certain things. But I can't help you unless you tell me what's going on."
"Well, all right. Are you sure you won't laugh at me?"
"I would never laugh at you. Anything you say won't leave this room. I promise."
"I've been thinking...about our conversation yesterday," Daphne began.
Niles hung his head in embarrassment. "I never should've barged in on you and Frasier. I made a complete fool of myself, jumping to conclusions like that."
Daphne squeezed his hand. "You did nothing wrong. You were just trying to help me...just like always." She felt tears in her eyes, thinking about what a good friend he'd been. "But I need to ask you a question."
Niles sensed that she was nervous about asking whatever it was she wanted to know. "I can tell that something is upsetting you, so I just want you to know that you can ask me anything you like."
"How do you feel about me?" Daphne blurted the question out, knowing she couldn't risk losing her nerve again.
"What do you mean, how do I feel about you?" Niles asked. His head was spinning. This was certainly not what he'd been expecting.
"Well, you were so upset yesterday, when you thought your brother and I were arguing, and I just couldn't believe it. I knew that we were good friends, but I can't help wondering if there was something more to it than that."
Niles hardly knew what to say. After so many years of trying to get her attention, he'd almost given up hope. With each passing day, it seemed as if the chances of him ever being more than a friend to Daphne grew slimmer and slimmer. And now, here she was, asking him how he felt. "Daphne...I never thought this moment would come. I don't really know how to answer your question. Not because I'm unsure of my feelings, but because I know that no words can ever explain them."
Daphne blushed. "Thank you."
Niles kissed her hand. "You're welcome. From the first moment I saw you, I felt something. A spark of hope. I don't know how to explain it, but it's something I'd never felt before. I've never been able to tell you. But I guess now, the cat's out of the bag." He laughed nervously.
"Yes, it is," Daphne replied, smiling. Her vision was blurred by tears. "I don't know what to say, except that's the most beautiful thing anyone's ever said to me."
"Please forgive me for putting you on the spot like this, but I need to know. How do you feel about me?" Niles looked into her eyes, falling in love with them all over again.
"Well, as you know, I've had me share of boyfriends. And they haven't worked out very well. But now here you are, saying all of these wonderful things. I can hardly believe that it's all true. But deep in me heart, I can feel something. I never realized before what it was. Now I know it's love," she said simply.
Niles could hold his feelings back no longer. He leaned forward, kissing her. The sensation overwhelmed him. He felt breathless, but more alive than ever before.
The kiss shocked Daphne. All the more because it made her want another. This time, she leaned in. Neither could hold back now. For several minutes, they gave in to their instincts.
When they both came up for air, Niles could hardly believe this moment was real. "I know we kind of did this backwards, but would you do me the honor of letting me buy you dinner?"
Daphne nodded. "I'd like that."
Niles smiled and took her hand, gently leading her to the door. He knew this would be an evening to remember. Silently, he thanked whatever star or twist of fate had led him to Frasier's yesterday and straight into Daphne's arms.